"Art Cinema: An Indian Genealogy of the Category"
Departments of Cinema and Media Studies, South Asian Languages and Civilizations
University of Chicago
Abstract: In this paper, I trace the historical context in which discussions about “art cinema” as a global cultural category and as film practice found a home in India. Existing writings on “art cinema” regard it as a cultural product of Nehruvian modernization. What I offer instead is a different and more complex transnational genealogy of the category. In the first two decades after Indian independence several Indian cineastes, policy makers, and the British film “missionary” Marie Seton powerfully articulated some parallel but distinct ideas about “film as an art” and “art cinema” that were in conversation with similar discussions in post-War Europe, Britain, and elsewhere. While many of these ideas would be challenged in subsequent decades, the early history of the Indian art film is best understood through these intertwined national and global discourses.